Forestville, California

January 2008

The Farmhouse Inn, close to the Russian River and ample wineries, is right off the River Road.  It’s also pretty remote but the staff never lets you feel like you are stranded in the middle of nowhere. Since we generally don’t like being out of urban areas at all, the only reason to visit was to sample Chef Steve Litke’s reported talent given their recent upgrade to a Michelin-starred property.  We were not disappointed.  

Dinner was à la carte.  Sometimes that’s good since one is not tempted to do an hours-long testing menu.  There was also no amuse bouche and a single female server with the dining room manager helping her out.  The atmosphere was relaxed and the wine list surprisingly affordable given we were in the middle of the often high-end priced Russian River Valley “terroir.

Our starters included:  burratta paired with wild mushroom crostini and slices of Spanish ham.  We inquired from the manager about where this incredible creamy milk treat originated from since it was as good (if not better) than any we had sampled in Italy. 

“San Diego.” we were told.  “They ship it up about twice a week and we always sell out.”

Next up, their famous rabbit dish. Described as “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” on the menu, it came three ways: a rabbit loin wrapped in pancetta next to a rabbit leg in a mustard cream sauce next to a tiny rack of baby rabbit chops with fingerling potatoes. I love rabbit, I love cream, I love mustard, I love pancetta.  What was not to like in this dish?  Not only was it magnificently prepared but it came to the table HOT.  (This in itself is an incredible feat for a restaurant to accomplish these days.)

Lynn and I often struggle during dessert to decide whether we want to have something savory (cheese) or something sweet (dessert).  Sometimes we get both.  Tonight would be one of those nights.  The Farmhouse Inn, while providing a decent selection of cheeses from France, Switzerland and Italy also showcases local cheeses from cheesemaker Soyoung Scanlan at Andante Dairy.  These were the cheeses we enjoyed the most.  For dessert we had the chocolate soufflé with a luscious vanilla cream.

My guess is if they kicked up the décor and added a server or two plus put in a full bar (they only serve wine), two stars would be knocking at the front door of the farmhouse.

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